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Rush - Exit... Stage Left CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.04 | 592 ratings

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4 stars Knit, knit, knit, knit, purl. RUSH followed the pattern begun with "All The World's A Stage": four studio albums followed by a live double album to recap the whole period. But what a difference four albums can make when they're called Farewell To Kings, "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures". Exit. Stage Left captures the band at the height of their popularity, and arguably at the height of their technical skills. It also marks the end of an era, as RUSH shifted toward more synthetic music on subsequent albums; the fiery guitar work of ALEX LIFESON, NEIL PEART's bells, blocks and tiny toms, and GEDDY LEE's warm vocals would grow noticeably colder by the time A Show of Hands appeared. As a last hurrah for the band's "classic" period, you couldn't ask for more. The drum solo on "YYZ", a guitar introduction that morphs gracefully into "The Trees", the crowd participation for "Closer to the Heart", these arguably outclass the original album versions. Although the band throws in a few early nuggets ("Beneath, Between And Behind", "A Passage To Bangkok"), they avoid duplicating anything from "All The World's A Stage". The real winners here are the album tracks like "Jacob's Ladder", "YYZ", "La Villa Strangiato" and "Xanadu." In these cases (and especially on "The Trees"), the band has no trouble shaking the original genie out of the bottle and making it dance.

Because the band didn't release a widely available greatest hits compilation until 1990's Chronicles, their live albums often functioned as abbreviated entrees into their catalog. I wouldn't have any trouble recommending "Exit... Stage Left" as the best of the live albums (given the works it covers), and thus a good way to get acquainted with the band or get re-acquainted with their best music in a single sitting. There are very few live albums I listen to, and enjoy, as much as this.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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